Album Of The Year: 'Black Lights' by Samaris
We’re riding on Segways. It’s the first time I’ve met Jófríður, Áslaug and Doddi of Samaris and we’re weaving through the summery old harbour on wheels, our roles oddly reversed with the gawking groups of tourists.
It was 2013, and the trio had just released their first studio LP—the self-titled collection ‘Samaris’—which followed a high tide of positivity from their early self-releases. I don’t know why we ended up on Segways. I think it had something to do with youth, energy and an offer from a Segway tour company in search of free advertising. As expected, Samaris rode through that interview with effortless cool and unabashed dorkiness.
It’s been three years since that first release. The Samaris trio is still young and still full of energy. But, like a painting set out to dry in the sun, they’ve also taken on the warm maturity of their surroundings.
‘Black Lights’ is a searing survey of human relationships. Just like the epic poetry from which the group drew lyrical inspiration for their last two albums, the stories on ‘Black Lights’ are at the same time unique and universal. Uncomfortable and familiar to anyone who has dealt with the realness of distance.
Through that distance, Jófríður, Áslaug and Doddi managed a more subtle message: that even physical separation can’t break certain bonds. The album was written and recorded over the course of a year when all three were living in separate countries. Doddi’s German dancefloor immersion meets Áslaug’s sonology studies in The Hague, while Jófríður lays her explorer’s existence over it all.
It is not fragmented (despite their physical fragmentation). It is not “typically Icelandic” (their international influences are felt, and they sing in English for the first time). A lot of talk about the album is what it is not. On the flipside, ‘Black Lights’ is a testament to the powerful connection that the group has. It is an evolution, a marked progression from their previous albums. It is a background album and a dance album, it is a heartbreak album and a hopeful album. It is a marked maturation, but at the same time, an ode to taking life as it comes and rolling with it.